Key Message

Caesarian birth can increase a baby’s chance of developing allergies and may alter the immune system of infants later in life.

Action Points

Follow our top 5 tips to optimise maternal and infant gut health

Cesarean sections are the most common surgical procedure performed in women of childbearing age today. The worldwide rate has quadrupled in less than two decades and even though the World Health Organisation recommends that C-sections may be indicated in up to 15% of deliveries, 37 out of 60 developed countries currently exceed this recommendation. This suggests that many women may be undergoing elective c-sections without a clear medical reason.

Recent studies have shown that elective c-section is associated with abnormal short-term immune responses in the newborn, and a greater risk of developing immune diseases such as asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease. However it is still unknown whether c-section causes a long-term effect on the immune system of the offspring that contributes to compromised immune health.

Studies have shown that children and adults born by c-section have a 20% higher risk of developing asthma compared to those born vaginally. It also increases a baby’s chance of developing allergies and they have a 23% higher risk of developing child onset type 1 diabetes compared to those vaginally born. Studies have also shown there is an increased risk for coeliac disease and increased hospitalisation for gastroenteritis in infuse has been linked to birth by C-section.

Infants born by c-section had a lower total count of gut bacteria at 1 month of age and the gut bacterial flora remained disturbed for up to 6 months. Compared to vaginal delivery, c-section delivery was associated with a change in the composition of the gut flora even 7 years after birth.

Studies have shown that the mode of delivery impacts the central nervous system which may alter immune function of the offspring in later life and change the bacterial and growth in the baby’s gut.

Scientists believe the babies are left vulnerable by avoiding the journey through the birth canal, which would normally expose them to their mothers bacteria.

Our Top 5 Tips for Pregnant Women:

1. Consume pregnancy specific probiotics throughout pregnancy

2. Eat plenty of fermented foods

3. Increase your fibre intake during pregnancy

4. Aim to breastfeed until at least 6months

5. Speak to a pediatric naturopath about a baby specific probiotic for your baby if you have a c-section


  1. Kristensen K, Henriksen L(2015) “Cesarean section and disease associated with immune function.”PubMed.gov. Accessed online on 27 January 2016 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26371844
  2. Clara E. Cho, BSc; Mikael Norman, MD, PhD (2013) “Cesarean section and development of the immune system in the offspring. “American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Accessed online on 27 January 2016 athttp://disciplinas.stoa.usp.br/pluginfile.php/350369/mod_resource/content/1/Cesarean%20section%20and%20development%20of%20the%20immune%20system%20of%20the%20offspring.pdf


sandra Written by: Sandra Di Giacomo

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